sam raimi the bad death is one of the most memorable horror movies ever made. Introducing the world to Bruce Campbell’s Ashley ‘Ash’ Williams, the 1981 cult classic film tells the story of a group of friends who unwittingly unleash evil spirits when they read an ancient text.
Spanning a string of sequels, television series, video games, and comics, the film is hailed as one of the most enduring and beloved horror franchises. To add to the list of comic book tie-ins and crossovers, Raimi’s classic received a comic book adaptation in 2008 in the form of a four-part miniseries. the bad death (by Mark Verheiden, John Bolton and Steve Dutro) published by Dark Horse Comics.
Based on the original screenplay by Sam Raimi, the comic’s story is largely the same as the film’s; Young Ash is left the last man standing when the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, the Book of the Dead, cuts a bloody path through his group of friends in a remote cabin in the woods. One by one, Ash’s friends are possessed by demonic entities known as ‘Deadites’, leaving him the sole survivor. It is a faithful adaptation, and the photo-realistically painted artwork of John Bolton (who also illustrated the 1992 work) army of darkness adaptation) does a great job of capturing the image of a young Bruce Campbell.
Nevertheless, the bad death is more than just a retelling of the events of the film. While staying true to the spirit and atmosphere of the film, this adaptation adds new dialogue and additional sequences, while adjusting certain events to maintain an element of surprise and suspense. Added scenes, such as an opening sequence where we meet Ash and his friends. prior to embark on their fateful road trip: fleshing out the characters and their relationships, giving us a better understanding of Linda, Shelly, Cheryl, and Scotty, as well as Ash himself.
This extra time allows Verheiden to better get into the shoes of the group of friends, especially through Ash’s narration that runs through each of the book’s four chapters. This version of the character is younger and less experienced than what time-traveling, joking Deadite Slayer fans would know and love in later films.
During a pivotal Deadite attack sequence, Verheiden takes the time to flashback the friends to the time before their trip, while Shelly performs a mercy killing of an injured bird. Although this is a minor addition to Evil Dead tradition, it allows readers to get to know Shelly a bit more before Scotty is forced to kill his Deadite-possessed form.
While not all of Verheiden’s changes work (such as making Cheryl another one of Ash’s friends instead of his sister), the book is more than a memory account of events. The adaptation cleverly plays with characters and narrative and even goes so far as to add an entirely new ending that fits better with the continuity established in evil dead 2.
The Evil Dead The comic book adaptation plays fast and loose with the movie it’s based on while staying true to everything that made it such a classic. Ultimately, it comes across as a clever reinvention and extension of the film franchise., no shortage of wonderful surprises up your sleeve.
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